Protecting homecare together – the road to restoring care

Homecare workers celebrate victory in fight to restore IHSS hours

As homecare providers, we are no strangers when it comes to making sure that our loved ones and clients get the services they deserve. And in the face of unjust treatment, we will stand up and fight – even if it takes years to win. Case in point: the six-year-long battle over cuts to California’s In-Home Supportive Services program (IHSS). In June, lawmakers finally voted to restore IHSS hours and end a 7% cut, marking a historic victory for homecare providers and our clients.

This victory comes after a multi-year campaign by homecare providers, clients, and our union.

Week after week, we met with legislators in their offices at the Capitol and told our stories. We explained how the 7% cut was hurting our clients and our families. We reminded lawmakers of the importance of a fully-funded homecare program for California’s seniors and people with disabilities. “The 7% cut negatively impacted my client’s well-being,” said IHSS provider Adrian Hardy of Plumas County. “A cut in her hours of care meant less interaction and socialization, which are important for people with autism. I fought to restore IHSS because it is about quality of life and human dignity.”

Our clients stood with us throughout the fight, and shared their own stories, too – putting a human face to these unfair cuts.

“I have a lot of medical problems,” said Adele Burris, a 72-year-old IHSS client in El Dorado County. “Without IHSS, I would have to be in a nursing home and that would cost the state a lot more. If we don’t invest in homecare, IHSS clients will have trouble finding providers and getting quality care.”

In the weeks leading up to the deadline for final budget approval, homecare providers revved up the campaign, delivering thousands of petition signatures to Governor Brown’s office. In June, we cheered the news that lawmakers voted to restore IHSS hours as of July 1, 2015.

But the fight isn’t over yet. In the budget agreed upon by legislators and the governor, the 7% cut was ended for one year. We will not settle for a temporary fix, and will continue to fight until cuts to IHSS are ended once and for all.

Governor Brown has called for a special legislative session to secure a new, on-going source of funding for social service programs like IHSS. As always, UDW members will be there to ensure that the voices of homecare clients and providers are heard.

The Road to Restoring Care

Early 2009: Then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs into law devastating cuts to IHSS that would completely eliminate homecare for 30,000 clients and reduce hours of care for another 100,000 people.

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Late 2009: Homecare unions and our allies file lawsuits in federal court to stop proposed cuts. A judge issues a preliminary injunction stopping the cuts on the basis that they would cause “incredible human suffering” to seniors and people with disabilities. The state appeals this ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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June 2011: Governor Jerry Brown signs legislation that requires a 20% cut in hours of care for 372,000 IHSS clients, scheduled to begin in January 2012.

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January 2012: UDW and our allies file another lawsuit in federal court. A judge issues a preliminary injunction stopping the harmful cuts from taking effect. The state appeals this ruling as well.

March 2013: A settlement agreement is reached with the state of California and the proposed 20% cut is reduced to 8%. The cut begins in July 2013, and is further reduced to 7% in July 2014.

2014: UDW launches the Every Hour Counts campaign to urge the governor and lawmakers to end all cuts to IHSS. In June, over four thousand homecare workers and our clients descend upon the capital for a two-day vigil and rally. We successfully secure funding for overtime pay for providers (see Overtime Update), however, IHSS hours are not restored in the 2014-2015 budget.

2015: The fight to end IHSS continues! Thousands of UDW homecare providers sign petitions, rally, attend budget hearings and candlelight vigils, and lobby lawmakers to restore the IHSS program.

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June 2015: VICTORY! After years of relentless pressure, lawmakers pass a budget that ends the 7% cut to IHSS hours for one year. The budget is signed into law by Governor Brown and goes into effect on July 1, 2015.

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Next Steps: Governor Brown has called for a special legislative session to address on-going funding for IHSS. UDW members will be there to advocate for a permanent end to IHSS cuts.

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Paid for by United Domestic Workers of America Action Fund, sponsored by United Domestic Workers of America. Not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate.

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